Monday, August 07, 2017

Online Groceries Shopping: Walmart vs Amazon Pantry

Ever since I even planned to move here to the Lower 48, I thought about doing most of my grocery shopping online. Now that I am here and mostly settled in the new place, I had a chance to try out the online grocery shopping experiment.

For my meats and dairy items, I can walk the block and a half to the little city market. The nearest large grocery store is too far away for me to get there on foot. Even if I could, getting the groceries back would be a hassle. The nearest Walmart is just over 7 miles away in the neighboring town.

I have a Prime account and an online Walmart account. I decided to see which would be most affordable for buying basic household supplies. I'm talking about pantry items (soups and some cooking staples) and things for cleaning and storage. Here is what I ended up listing:
  • Paper towels
  • Toilet tissue
  • Sanitary/feminine hygiene items
  • Soup
  • Beverages (I like Pellegrino in particular)
  • Trash bags and food storage baggies
  • Dish soap
  • Coffee
Since I wanted to know which online store would be best, I opened carts in both Walmart and Amazon's Prime Pantry and loaded them with almost identical items (brand, size, count, etc), then I compared costs.

Walmart ended up being the most affordable. The item prices were not only cheaper, so was the shipping. With Walmart, I get free shipping on orders of $35 or more. With Amazon's Pantry, things are more complicated. 

Okay. For Prime Pantry, the free shipping is contingent on ordering a certain amount of "qualifying" items. If you don't have 5 or more of the "qualifying" items, the shipping cost is $5.99 per box.

NOTE: straight from Amazon, here is the definition of a Pantry box:
Prime Pantry boxes vary in size and can hold up to 45 pounds. Your order will be packaged in an appropriate-sized box, based on the dimensions and weight of the items. This box could be anything from the size of a shoe box to as large as a suitcase.

That sounds simple enough, and I actually thought it would be easy enough to get at least 5 qualifying items. Uh... Nope. 

As I was filling my cart, there was a little meter showing me my "fill rate". I realized that it is a bit harder to fill a box with qualifying items. Unless I wanted to shop based solely on qualifying items, I was going to be paying that shipping fee.

Let's zoom in on some of that:

Of course, Walmart tends to be cheaper than almost any other retailer. Throw in the free shipping when I order over a certain dollar amount of goods and... Walmart is the winner.

There was another benefit to using Walmart: most of the items ship faster. Maybe because of the location of where they ship from? Also, there is the option of putting together an order for Store Pickup.

Here is my first Walmart order. Total cost for at least a month and a half supply of everything on my list: $70 + tax.

At any rate, I will probably continue to use Walmart for my every-other-month shopping of basics household stuff. I will reserve Amazon for the other Prime items I use. 

Hope this helps anyone who has been thinking of using Amazon or Walmart for basic household shopping needs.